By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis has renewed his appeal for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid ongoing reports of deadly violence in the central African nation.
Speaking at the end of his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis said “Unfortunately, troubling news continues to come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Therefore, I renew my call for everyone to commit to avoiding all forms of violence.”
“On her part, he continued, the Church wants nothing other than to contribute to the peace and to the common good of society.”
The Pope’s appeal comes on the heels of a similar one he issued on Sunday during the Angelus on the last day of his apostolic journey to Peru when he appealed to DRC authorities to do everything in their power to avoid all forms of violence.
Violent political clashes have erupted in the DRC as protesters, banned by the Congolese government, demand that President Joseph Kabila step down.
Dozens of people have died in protests, and militia violence has increased, prompting fears of a return to civil war.
Under Kabila, who has held office since 2001, Congolese bishops have spoken out against the government’s human rights violations and the President’s plan to remove term limits that bar him from re-election.
The bishops also helped mediate an agreement between the country’s ruling political coalition and opposition leaders, culminating in an agreement signed on 31 December 2016 agreement that allowed Kabila to remain in office beyond his mandate demanding he step down after an election to be held this year.
However, the country’s electoral commission then said an election could not be organized until December 2018. The president’s opponents fear Kabila aims to remain in power, while the president has blamed delays on a slow voter registration process.